Thursday, March 12, 2009

In Flagrante Delicto

Chris was playing with words when I saw this phrase, prompting a blog. We've owned two finches for some years, or rather, Lauren has. They reside in and mess her room, scattering seed shells all over her floor, but she likes their chirps and sounds. We got them from a woman who said that she was "allergic" to them (a lot like when someone has a dog "that needs room to run", it means "I am so done with these animals").
Anyway, some time later we found that she originally got them from another friend of ours, and that likely, they are brother and sister. Dutifully, they make a nest, the female lays eggs and the male sits on them. Though I've not seen them, Lauren says she has seen him in flagrante delicto (okay, she just said "do it"). But despite years of work, they've produced no offspring. This is not an entirely bad thing, for what would I do with the babies?

In a documentary on Koko the Gorilla, William and I learned that gorillas have a taboo against incest, even if it is just perceived (two unrelated apes raised together as brother and sister). I would not have guessed this of birds, given that Aloha the rooster has been caught exerting his "rights" with his mother, his aunt, his sister and has even been eyeing the cat. Roosters don't care.
And so, I answer the question from reader Dawn:
We are thinking about getting chickens this spring and I wondered if it was possible to have like a visiting rooster like stud service that other animals have or if he would need to live with the hens. We don't want a rooster (neighbors too close) but I would like to have a mamma.
Dear Dawn,
You don't say where you live, and a good thing or there could be a rooster that mysteriously finds it way into your yard! Yes, sure, roosters can be "borrowed" and he'd likely get right to work. He would have to stay with you a week or two. Some roosters do have favorites and will outright reject some hens. For example, Aloha loves Hawk (she's his Rachel) but will also service Rose (his Leah). He will absolutely have nothing to do with Buffy, a rather old hen who tried to be bossy. He retaliated and tried to kill her, so they are now separated. Point is, chickens do have preferences and you'll have to watch who he "hooks up with" so no one gets hurt.
Most people that have chickens long enough want the experience of hatching them. Unfortunately, most big breed hens do not have the same desire (it's been bred out of them) and won't incubate them. Bantam breed hens love to hatch eggs or you have to get an incubator. And remember, each egg has a 50% chance of being a rooster (100% chance if you go by my results) and you need to have plans to re-home the boys if you hatch your own.
If you plan to run the equivalent of a chicken convent, you might try going to the local farm store and asking if they sell sexed chickens. For $2 each, you'll be guaranteed what you want. (BTW, "straight run" means they have not been sexed.)
Yours truly,
Crazy Chicken Lady

1 comment:

Cloudia said...

I raised zebra finches years ago!!
Wonderful little guys


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